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Steenhuisen to Ramaphosa: Farmgate is a big, ugly stain on your presidency

South Africans don’t deserve a two-bit mob boss with houses stuffed full of dirty cash for president, says DA leader John Steenhuisen. File image
South Africans don’t deserve a two-bit mob boss with houses stuffed full of dirty cash for president, says DA leader John Steenhuisen. File image  
Image: Freddy Mavunda

DA leader John Steenhuisen has compared President Cyril Ramaphosa to a two-bit mob boss and his Farmgate scandal to his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla debacle.

Steenhuisen criticised Ramaphosa for not addressing the scandal that broke out last week when former state security boss Arthur Fraser announced he had laid a criminal complaint against Ramaphosa for allegedly covering up a robbery at his Phala Phala farm in February 2020.

Steenhuisen was participating in the 2022/23 presidency budget vote that Ramaphosa tabled in the National Assembly earlier on Thursday afternoon.

Steenhuisen reiterated a call he made earlier in the week that Ramaphosa has to “come clean” about the robbery and questioned the president’s motives for not reporting the crime to the police.

“South Africans don’t want this, and they don’t deserve this. They don’t want a two-bit mob boss with houses stuffed full of dirty cash for a president. They want someone who leads by example — someone who puts his or her personal ambitions a distant second to the needs of the country,” he said.

Steenhuisen said he wants Ramaphosa to imagine what the Farmgate scandal looks like to an ordinary South African.

“What should a hard-working, taxpaying citizen make of a remote farmhouse where tens of millions of rand in foreign currency have been stuffed into the upholstery of the sitting room furniture? What should such a citizen think when told that more than R60m of this hidden cash was stolen, and that the president didn’t want anyone to ever know about it?

“That he had the suspects tracked, rounded up, interrogated and paid off to keep their mouths shut?”

Steenhuisen said normal law-abiding South Africans who save for months to buy ordinary things could not begin to imagine that kind of money. “But you didn’t even report it to the police. Never mind getting it back, you didn’t want anyone to know it ever existed.

“Just how much money do you have stashed away if you can afford to turn a blind eye to $4m?   What should the average South African citizen make of this, Mr President?”

While Ramaphosa claimed everything was above board and that he had broken no laws, stuffing millions into couches, hiding the robbery from the police and paying the robbers hundreds of thousands of rand to not say a word were not the actions of someone who has broken no laws, said Steenhuisen.

“These are the things we see in mafia movies, about cartels,  syndicates and gangsters.”

An honest and innocent man who was the victim of a huge crime would have wasted no time setting the record straight, added Steenhuisen. “Only a man with a lot to hide would choose to silence himself behind a smokescreen of a ‘pending investigation’.”

Steenhuisen said every day that the questions around the matter remained unanswered causes irreparable damage to the office of the presidency.

He said Ramaphosa has to be beyond reproach, be open and transparent and be seen as leading with integrity. “But you are none of these things. There is only suspicion, secrecy and silence.”

“How exactly are you different to your predecessor, Mr President?

“Phala Phala is your Nkandla. It will forever be a big, ugly stain on your presidency,” said Steenhuisen.

TimesLIVE

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